When Shanalya Sweat “stumbled upon” Trevecca in 2012, she’d already spent some time at a public university and a community college.

“I had worked full-time, I was in school full- time, and I was also a first-generation college student,” Sweat says. “They just weren’t good fits with my lifestyle.”

At the time, Sweat was in her early 20s—closer in age to a traditional undergraduate student— but a traditional program just didn’t work. Then she discovered Trevecca’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies (SGCS) Bachelor of Arts in Management and Human Relations (MHR) program.

“I applied, and I was accepted, and it just took off from there,” she says. “I was able to graduate in 2013 from the MHR program, and I was still able to work full-time. The program just benefited me 100 percent working with my schedule, my lifestyle and working full-time.”

Through her employer, Sweat learned of a program that was hiring new graduates in the IT field. She took advantage of the opportunity and worked as a software quality assurance analyst. Sweat developed new skill sets while in that job, eventually becoming a business analyst, a position she currently holds.

Even as she started her career, Sweat knew she wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but she couldn’t decide which one. Eventually, she started thinking about the things that meant the most to her: leadership and development.

So, she started to work on her master’s of organizational leadership (MOL) at Trevecca. She graduated last month.

“It has helped me develop the foundations of a leader,” Sweat says. “One of the biggest things I learned was the difference between a boss and an actual leader. As a leader, you can take your skill sets anywhere, and they actually take you further in your workplace.”

Sweat has plans for the future, ones that will take her further as a leader. She wants to develop seminars and workshops to help organizations and businesses better connect with Millennials.

“Even right now, I’m a part of different groups where they are looking for Millennials to come into the workforce, but they really don’t know how to attract them,” she says. “It’s an issue because there are so many positions that are unfilled, they just need to find the right people— some are probably Millennials—with the right skill sets and don’t know how to connect with them.”

Mandy Crow